Albert – Urban Monk – What is Spirituality

Albert from Urban Monk agreed to be interviewed by me about Spirituality, Life, Fear and Purpose. If you don’t know Albert, please head over to his site and subscribe to his posts.  Albert may be young, but he is very wise and I’m so happy he agreed to be interviewed.  I ask the questions below, and Albert answers.  Please give him some support for this guest post and Tweet, Stumble and comment below for him.

You say fear is the number one reason that people don’t go for their dreams. Where do you think fear comes from ?

I think there are many places fear can come from. The first that comes to mind is our comfort zone. We are afraid of moving out of what we are familiar with, or we want to but we are afraid of the steps we will have to take to make it happen.

Very closely related to this is the fear of success – what will happen if we actually have it? These fears can be very unconscious and very irrational – so when we find them, we might be very surprised. For example, I’ve heard of someone who wants to lose weight and have a sexy body – and yet unconsciously she is afraid of what will happen if she is slim, will she have to deal with all sorts of unwanted sexual advances? And so on.

A very similar fear is the approval or disapproval of our parents. It is very irrational again – sometimes we unconsciously do things to piss off our parents. Cut off the nose to spite the face, someone called it. In other words, if you think I’m a failure, well then I WILL be a failure, see if you like that.

Should we conquer fear? Listen to it? Embrace it? Integrate it?

I don’t think conquering fear is a good idea. I’m a big fan of the idea of sub-personalities. In other words, if there is a part of us that is afraid, and we “defeat” it – then we just carry around an “inner loser”.

There are many things to do with fear – one of the simplest is the Sedona Method, where we “release” our fear. The whole Method is about dropping our negative emotions. And as we do, we begin to see more clearly, more rational options and behaviours naturally. This doesn’t mean we don’t listen to our fears of course, and not be prepared for it. But we don’t need to be afraid of car accidents, for example, in order to jump out of the way. Releasing our fears doesn’t mean we walk around completely defenseless – it’s purely an inner experience.

The Sedona Method has some questions to help you with releasing. First, we fully embrace, feel, and welcome our fears. Very often, that in itself is enough for change to happen. But they usually ask questions like – Could you let go it? Would you let go of it? When? It is really quite simple, and that’s why I’m a big fan of it. 

Why is spiritual growth important?

I am really, really biased, so I might not be the best person to ask! Hah! I think spiritual growth is the most important thing we can do. It underlies every other area of our life. Most of our other pursuits ultimately reflect our search for happiness. If we want love, health, wealth, what do we get from it? Happiness, for most. The difference is, happiness doesn’t come from these things – in my experience, happiness comes from inside. All the other external stuff, they give you pleasure, perhaps. Sensual pleasure, but it isn’t true happiness. The moment we lose them we get upset again. And even if we don’t lose them, we eventually adapt to them, which leads to a continual, never-ending search for more, more, and more. In Positive Psychology, they call this the hedonic treadmill. They try to counteract the treadmill, but I think the best thing to do is jump off it altogether, and look within for happiness.

On the other hand, I’ve also found that spiritual growth – or what others often call raising your level of consciousness, does affect your external life. A good quote is by Ralph Emerson – he says “What you are comes to you”. I am probably interpreting him wrongly, but I found this to be very true in my experience. Raising your consciousness – through always choosing compassion and integrity, for instance, might be painful and stressful at times. But in the long run it results in a far better external life –relationships, finances, and so on – then any other type of personal growth I have done.

For instance, to succeed socially, one might learn how to make small talk, how to really listen, how to mirror the person you are speaking to. There are millions of books on that. But learning to develop unconditional acceptance, or raising your consciousness in that area – a big part of spiritual growth – I’ve found that relationships and social success come naturally, without the need to learn any of the “usual skills”.

Do we have a blueprint that is decided before we come to earth?

I don’t know. How do we ever personally verify stuff like this? And even if we do or do not, how does that impact what we do here now?  (note from Michelle – I love this answer)

Do you think we come onto this earth with specific Spiritual lessons to learn?

Again, I don’t know. It’s certainly very poetic to think so, and I guess for someone going through a rough time, this might give them some strength to draw upon. It does help to put their struggles in a different context, and in that case, it might be a good thing to think like that.

Aren’t we born already perfect? Why do we need to ‘self improve”?

There is a quote that I’m very fond of, although I can’t remember the exact words – A rosebud isn’t an imperfect rose, but a perfect rosebud. We are moving from perfection to perfection, and in a way, even our insecurities and imperfections are perfect.  Everything is perfect – just that our mind refuses to see it that way.

On a more mundane level, I also think there is no clash between perfection and improvement. Imagine you have a baby that you love more than anything in the world. You might see him or her as perfect, but you would still want to do all you can for your child out of that love. This might seem confusing, but perfection is improvement. From some perspectives, there really isn’t a clash between the two.

Do we choose our trials and tribulations?

There is a very poetic teaching I’ve heard – that we attract the things that let us work off our negative karma or grow spiritually. Then again, I really have no idea. There is no way for me to know for sure, but certainly such teachings give us the courage to hold on when we feel like giving up.

How does Law of Attraction fit into Spirituality?

You know, I do have many thoughts on the LOA. I have to admit I bought the book and watched the DVD when the “Secret” came out. But it’s been 3 years, and I’m still waiting for my supermodel, so I’m not sure I am qualified to say anything on the LOA.

How can we live ‘pure and calm and creative and peaceful with everything that goes on around in the world?

I can’t give the definite answer – simply because I am not unconditionally peaceful. But non-attachment, and non-resistance – these two principles have worked very well for me. Dropping our basic desires, our attachments, our cravings, and so on has given me quite a measure of peacefulness, even in things that would have upset me a few years ago. The Buddha taught that our attachments and desires are at the root of all our suffering, and as we drop them it frees us up internally. It is the same with non-resistance; we try, as best as we can, to stop judging things. I don’t know how far these teachings will take us, but they’ve worked tremendously well for me.

Do people choose their experience? If so, what about poverty, murder?

Again, impossible to say. Again, I’ve heard theories of this world being a perfect place to work off negative karma from past lives. But I don’t even know if there are past lives.

What will happen in 2012?

Dunno? I’m 28 now, so I will turn 31, I guess.

Last words:

Thanks for this interview, Michelle. It was a privilege to be picked, and I really enjoyed it.

Find out more about Albert and his Urban Monk Blog

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